It can be a challenge to stay focused and be mentally alert on the golf course, when the rounds can take over four hours. Many golfers talk about golf from the moment they arrive at the course, being out on the range for practice and all the way through their playing round and then into the 19th.
The mind can’t focus intensely for that amount of time. I get the reason why because we all love the game. I’m not saying don’t talk about golf but just be aware when it’s time to focus on the game and when to stop as that will help you improve your concentration.
Also, time spent focusing on the negatives after a poor shot and ‘trying’ to get those shots back, doesn’t help and only helps to drain our energy.
Have you noticed how you feel completely drained after a mentally challenging day at work and maybe need some chill out time when you get home but you don’t feel the same when the boss has been in a good mood or someone’s had a birthday bash and you all went out to celebrate?
That’s because your mind isn’t spending so much time focusing in a mentally challenging environment.
The same thing happens on the course. When we’re having an off day, things aren’t going as planned, we struggle to get back on track and often by the time we’ve got to the last 4 or 5 holes, we’ve had it, our energy reserves are depleted and our game only seems to get worse.
Conversely, if we’re having a good day, things seem to go so much better and easier.
Training our minds to switch off is an important part of staying mentally alert. Developing processes and routines, such as pre and post shot routines, where we train the mind to focus for short periods and forget about the shot once it is over, helps us to stay focused and what is known as 'present' or in the moment.
Between holes, think about anything else but the shot you’ve just played, the next shot or golf in general. Think about your holiday, a dinner party, family gathering or anything else that makes you feel good but not golf, until it’s time to take your next shot.
Over a period of time and with practice, we can enter that often elusive area known as ‘the zone’ or ‘flow state’ where things just happen seemingly without effort and we are unaffected by internal interference (thoughts) or external interference and distractions.
Also, it’s not just what we put into our head that matters. Eating and drinking the right things are essential to stay mentally alert. Avoiding sugary, fizzy or low calorie ‘sports drinks’ which are laden with sugar or chemicals which can affect our mental state through sugar highs and crashes.
Staying hydrated is vitally important, especially when playing in warmer weather, which may seem obvious, but avoid the 'sports' and fizzy, sugar laden drinks. I’ve had clients who struggled after 13-14 holes as they literally ran out of steam, physically and mentally.
The ‘sports’ drinks they had been drinking didn’t help them as much as they thought. Once they changed to water and a healthy snack such as nuts and raisins or a homemade energy bar, the problem disappeared and so did the crash.
If you’ve been struggling staying alert for the whole round, try these and see how they help you. I’d love to hear your feedback.
If you want to know more about how we can help you improve not only this area but your overall mental game, get in touch by clicking this link here.
Performance Coach & Trainer at Golfing minds